Senator Gillibrand Calls for Public Health Assessment in Hoosick Falls

Senator GillibrandThis week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pushed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a public health assessment of Hoosick Falls and nearby areas as soon as possible.

This assessment would make way for the development of a public health action plan to address the water contamination in the town caused by PFOA exposure at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site.

In a letter to the CDC, Gillibrand stated how, “studies indicate that exposure to PFOA over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, liver damage, low birth weight, immune system impacts, and other serious health effects.”

She stressed the importance of more research in order to better understand these health effects and to, ” clarify and expand upon current research findings.”

Read the full article here.


EPA Proposes Adding Saint-Gobain Site in Hoosick to Federal Superfund List

The EPA announced its proposal today to add the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites.

The Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility is located at 14 McCaffrey Street and its groundwater has been contaminated with Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Trichloroethylene. The village’s public water supply has also been found to be contaminated with PFOA.

“By placing this site on the federal Superfund list, the EPA will continue to work hard to address the contamination at the source, and hold the polluters accountable for the full cost of cleanup,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator.

  • In January 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation added the Saint-Gobain site to the state’s Superfund list and nominated the site for inclusion in the federal Superfund list.
  • In April 2016, the EPA installed groundwater monitoring wells near the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility.
  • In early May 2016, the EPA conducted groundwater sampling at and around the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility.
  • In mid-May, the EPA conducted drinking water sampling at drinking water wells used by the Village of Hoosick Falls.
  • After testing in Hoosick Falls, the EPA determined that inclusion in the federal Superfund program was an effective course of action to address the contamination.

After this proposal of inclusion to the National Priorities List, a 60-day comment period will begin in which the EPA will accept public comments until November 10th.

Following the comment period, designation to the National Priorities List will make the site eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanup.

The Superfund program allows the EPA to search for the polluters legally responsible for contaminating a site and holds them accountable for cleanup costs, rather than pushing costs onto taxpayers.

Read the EPA’s complete news release here.


Hoosick Falls Water Contamination Hearings Begin

A State Senate committee held a daylong hearing in Hoosick Falls this week to address the PFOA water contamination issue that has been affecting residents for months.

Michael Hickey, a Hoosick Falls lifelong resident who was one of the first to bring attention to the town’s contaminated water, spoke at the hearing about how he discovered a connection between the death of his father from kidney cancer and the toxic chemical Teflon.

Hoosick Falls water contamination

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

“All I typed in was Teflon and cancer, because that’s what was in the factory that was in Hoosick Falls where my father worked,” stated Hickey at the Tuesday hearing.

Although it only took Hickey “about five minutes,” it took government officials much longer to notice the contamination, or to take action.

Only in recent months has the gravity of this issue come to light as researchers found that the town’s public water supply was tainted with high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which is used in several products as well as in the production of Teflon.

State officials have identified the source of the contamination as the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant.

Several nearby towns in New York as well as in Vermont have also reported high levels of PFOA since then.

Dr. Marcus Martinez, a local physician, had also testified alongside Hickey stating he had long noted what he believed to be unusually high rates of cancer in the village. He said that he and Hickey had brought their concerns, as well as test results, to the attention of village and state officials in 2014, but had been disappointed by a lack of action.

“I do believe our citizens were advised incorrectly to consume water that was unsafe for at least for 12 months,” Dr. Martinez said.

Read the full article in the New York Times.


Hoosick Falls & Petersburgh Landfills Declared Potential State Superfund Sites

Department_of_Environmental_ConservationThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced this week that the municipal landfills in Hoosick Falls and Towns of Petersburgh and Berlin have been declared Potential State Superfund Sites.

These sites became eligible for potential placement on the State Superfund Site Registry after preliminary investigations discovered that the sites may contain PFOA, a chemical listed as a hazardous chemical by New York State.

Further investigation will look for evidence of hazardous waste disposed at the landfills and any resulting contamination that may pose a threat to public health or the environment.

“DEC remains committed to ensuring a comprehensive clean-up of the contamination in these communities,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Identifying these two landfills as P-sites is the next step in the state’s ongoing response to provide residents in these affected communities the information and protection they deserve.”

PFOA is believed to have been disposed at both landfills.

Monitoring wells at the Hoosick Falls site were found to contain concentrations of up to 21,000 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA, and samples at the Petersburgh/Berlin site were found to contain concentrations up to 4,200 ppt of PFOA.

The State Superfund Program allows the state to launch investigations of the contamination and hold the parties responsible accountable for the remediation of these sites.

The DEC will work to identify potentially responsible parties that disposed of hazardous wastes and hold them accountable for costs associated with the investigation and remediation.

View the DEC’s letters to the towns here:

Letter to Hoosick Falls Officials

Letter to Petersburgh and Berlin Officials


More Health Harms from PFOA Found

New studies have came out recently that show more harmful effects of PFOA exposure on mothers and their children.

Four studies that have been conducted by Harvard researchers and other leading journals to look into highly fluorinated chemicals such as PFOA.

“These chemicals have some of the strongest bonds in the periodic table, and they basically never break down, so they stay around for millions of years,” said Arlene Blum from the University of California, Berkeley-based Green Science Policy Institute.

Several kinds of cancer, high cholesterol and obesity are some of the harmful health effects associated with PFOA exposure.

It was also found that young children who are exposed to the chemical PFOA have a reduced immune response to vaccinations. Furthermore, as children grow older, they may experience other problems such as more colds and upset stomachs.

Another study discovered that women who had high levels of PFOA in their blood were not able to breastfeed as long as other women.

Learn more here.

Attorneys Stephen Schwarz and Hadley Matarazzo at Faraci Lange, as well as Robin Greenwald at Weitz & Luxenberg, represent the plaintiffs as co-lead counsel in the Hoosick Falls lawsuit.

Senate to Hold PFOA Water Contamination Hearing in Hoosick Falls

The State Senate will be holding a hearing regarding the PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls on August 30th.

The hearing will be held at Hoosick Falls High School by the Senate Health and Environmental Conservation committees chaired by Senators Kemp Hannon and Tom O’Mara.

Experts from various agencies including the EPA, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Department of Health will be present at the hearing.

These experts will shed light on the factors that may have caused the slow response to PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls’ water supply, such as the possibility of overlapping jurisdictions, lack of communication, or perhaps sheer negligence.

The second part of the hearing will allow the Senators to hear directly prom the public. People who would like to speak can sign up in advance and testify during the afternoon. Committees will allow Hoosick Falls residents to testify on a first-come first-serve basis after 5 PM.

Learn more here.


Leak Forces Petersburgh to Switch Water System to High PFOA-Level Well

Petersburgh PFOA water contaminationOn August 8th the Rensselaer County Department of Health released a statement to the Town of Petersburgh residents that a leak had been identified in the water system that required the activation of Well #2, a well that tested above the federal PFOA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

The EPA had recently established a health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA.

Consequently, residents were advised by the county and state Departments of Health to continue to, or in some cases revert back to, using bottled water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula.

Bottled water has been made available at the Petersburgh Town Hall while the Departments of Health “work with the Town to correct this situation including the installation of a permanent water treatment system for the municipal supply.”

Read the full article here.

Residents of Petersburgh and other communities who may be impacted by PFOA water contamination are encouraged to contact us to learn more about how we can help.

NYS Updates Hoosick Falls Residents on Blood Tests

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health held a meeting last week to provide Hoosick Falls’ residents with a status update on the PFOA water contamination in the town.

Hoosick Falls PFOA contaminationAfter conducting almost three thousand blood tests in Hoosick Falls, the exposure of the contamination is more clear.

It was found that individuals who use Hoosick Falls village water have, “30 times the amount of PFOA in their blood than the average American.”

It can take anywhere between two to four years for PFOA levels to decrease in the blood system by half.

Those affected are advised to contact a physician after receiving their blood test results as many of the potential side effects of PFOA exposure are treatable.

Read the full story here.

 


Studies Presume PFOA to be Immune Hazard for Humans

PFOA immune hazardThe National Toxicology Program recently conducted a systematic review of immunotoxicity associated with exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and concluded that the chemical is presumed to be an immune hazard to humans.

The NTP found a high level of evidence that PFOA suppressed the antibody response from
animal studies and the moderate level of evidence from studies in humans. The research also found a high level of evidence that PFOA increased hypersensitivity-related outcomes from animal studies and low level of evidence from studies in humans.

There is additional, although weaker, evidence that is primarily from epidemiological studies that PFOA reduced infectious disease resistance and increased autoimmune disease.

The evidence indicating that PFOA affects multiple aspects of the immune system supports the overall conclusion that PFOA alters immune function in humans.

Read the full report here.

Residents of Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and other communities who believe they may have been impacted by the PFOA water contamination are encouraged to contact us or submit a contamination contact form.


PFOA Informational Meetings in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh

PFOA Water ContaminationPFOA Informational Meetings are being held on JUNE 7 and JUNE 8, 2016 at 6:30pm to discuss recent PFOA developments.

The Petersburgh meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the Petersburgh Veterans Memorial Community Center (PVMCC) located at 71 Main St., Petersburgh, NY 12138.

The Hoosick Falls meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the Hoosick Falls Country Club located at 73 Richmond Avenue, Hoosick Falls, NY 12090.

Items discussed will include:

  • the EPA setting the PFOA health advisory level at 70 parts per trillion and what needs to be done to make sure your drinking water is safe;
  • interpreting soon to be released PFOA blood test results and what it means for your health; and
  • your family’s potential legal options.

This meeting is being sponsored by the law firms of Chaffin Luhana LLP, Williams Cuker Berezofsky, LLC and Faraci Lange, LLP.

Please attend if you are a client of these firms or a resident not represented by legal counsel who is interested in learning more about general PFOA developments or the litigation.